Premarital counseling focuses on building the strengths of your relationship, discussing relationship patterns and dynamics, values and future aspirations, and setting the foundation for a strong marriage. I provide an accepting therapeutic environment for you and your partner to explore your relationship. Common issues discussed in pre-marital therapy include talking about views on money, sex, religion, kids, divorce and work/life balance. The next step is taking a deeper look at your life and future with your partner. I often hear couples talk about growing apart, moving in different directions, misplaced dreams, and difficulties from the past that keep returning. The way to have a successful marriage is to stay emotionally connected with your partner. In order to do that, couples can learn how to tune into their own emotions, as well as their partners emotional needs.
Pre-marital counseling is typically 4-8 sessions. Each package includes a complimentary copy of my book, When Depression Hurts Your Relationship, for each partner. We will often use exercises from the book to aid in our counseling sessions.
Pre-marital counseling helps you think about your life together, and to explore the answers to these questions and more:
1. What are your goals and dreams for the future together? What are your individual goals you’d like to accomplish? How do you support one another in your aspirations?
2. How does each partner deal with conflict? Do they want to talk it out? Do they need space? How do you let them know what you need? What do you find supportive? How do you each recover from a fight? The goal is to explore ways to stay emotionally connected despite the arguments or differences of opinion you will encounter.
3. What do you love about your partner? Is it the way they make you feel about yourself? Give you confidence? Make you feel supported, treasured, excited? What sets them apart from anyone else you’ve known? It’s essential to practice showing gratitude and appreciation for your partner. How does each of you show appreciation for one another?
4. Why do you want to get married? What is your idea of what a marriage should entail?
5. What issues from your past should you be aware of? How do these issues impact your feelings about yourself and your relationship with your partner?
For the most successful outcome, couples will work together on their relationship beyond the time spent in our sessions. I will give you guidance on how to extend the benefits of therapy and how to stay connected outside of your sessions.
The research shows that couples therapy positively impacts 70% of couples who recieve treatment. Couples counseling focuses on re-connecting with your partner and learning new ways of approaching one another emotionally. We navigate the difficult stages of long term relationships, which may include different relationship expectations, growing distant, increasing arguments or irritability, intimacy issues, parenting, work stress, problems with in-laws or extended family, and life-stage changes. Most couples say they want to increase their sense of cohesiveness and they also have specific areas they know they would like to address in therapy.
The first few sessions of couples therapy will focus on gathering relationship history and setting goals together. During therapy, we will explore your relationship dynamics and communication style, your family histories, your style of showing love and affection to one another, and work to strengthen your bond together through connecting emotionally. Using Emotion-Focused Therapy, couples learn to express the underlying feelings that so often accompany anger, coldness and distance. Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, you will learn the practical skills of mindfulness and acceptance as it applies to you and your partner’s relationship. My role is to help both of you understand your relationship dynamic together and offer my guidance in how to navigate difficult issues in a new way.
As part of our couples therapy, each of you will receive a copy of my book, When Depression Hurts Your Relationship. We will use some exercises from the book to help our work together when applicable.
I have a great deal of respect for couples who are willing to come into counseling and address problems that are hurting their relationship with one another. Couples counseling can have a profound, lasting impact on your relationship.
Contact Dr. Kolakowski for Couples and Pre-marital Counseling in Bellevue, WA.